Focuses on state’s paramount duty while promoting competitive elections
OLYMPIA…Commissioner Joe Fain of the Washington State Redistricting Commission released his draft plan Tuesday for the 2021 legislative redistricting cycle. Proposed as part of the state’s 10-year redistricting effort, Fain’s map of 49 legislative districts focuses on keeping communities together and fostering competitive elections.
A core component of Fain’s plan is its respect for school-district boundaries. His proposal protects close to three-quarters of all school districts in Washington from being divided between legislative districts.
“The state’s paramount duty is made clear in our Constitution and by court decree,” said Fain. “Making public schools the center of gravity for our legislative boundaries will elevate the voices of students, educators, and parents in state government. There is no more important community of interest than those bound together by our public schools.”
Fain’s proposal also supports another priority of the Washington’s redistricting law: competition.
“The people of Washington want fair and competitive elections – they made that clear in their testimony to the commission. Competitive elections keep representatives accountable to their local communities rather than partisan interests. It is crucial to the democratic process that our maps reflect that. I estimate my plan does this by increasing the number of ‘swing’ districts by well over one-third – to 15, from 11.”
Fain’s plan also makes several changes to keep other communities of interest intact. His proposal includes seven majority-minority districts statewide, and one additional majority-minority citizen of voting age population (CVAP) district, increasing Washington’s number from four to five.
Additionally, Fain’s plan reflects the interest of each of the tribal governments that communicated with the commission. For example, the Yakama Reservation and related tribal lands would reside entirely within the 14th Legislative District, reflecting a desire expressed several times by representatives of the Yakama Nation’s tribal council. At the same time, the plan recognizes the wishes of the Colville Tribes by not consolidating them into a single district.
The Redistricting Commission, created by voters through an amendment to Washington’s constitution, comprises two Republican and two Democrat voting members appointed by the legislative caucuses, with a non-voting chair. Each voting commissioner is responsible for producing proposals for congressional and state legislative electoral maps. A final set of maps approved by the commission is due to legislators Nov. 15.
Commissioners are expected to release congressional proposals next week. Members of the public are encouraged to submit their own proposals using the commission’s online mapping tool.